State prosecutors in Rostov-on-Don have asked a judge to sentence activist Anastasia Shevchenko to five years in prison for supposedly violating Russia’s “undesirable organizations” law, her lawyer reported on Thursday. Shevchenko is the first person in Russia to be charged with the felony statute, which lawmakers adopted in 2015. She has been under house arrest for two years already, since January 2019. Her allegedly criminal activity comprises organizing political debates in Taganrog and publishing content about a lecture staged by the banned “Open Russia” group.
In January 2019, Shevchenko’s eldest daughter died after a long battle with lung problems. After initial reports that the court denied Shevchenko’s request to visit her in the hospital, she was ultimately allowed to be at her daughter’s bedside, the night before she passed away. In January 2020, Shevchenko’s second daughter revealed in a Facebook post that police installed a court-sanctioned hidden camera in her mother’s bedroom, four months before her arrest, to spy on her activities.
In late March 2019, the “Open Russia” movement dissolved itself, due to the persecution of its activists.